In our new monthly Editor’s Picks series, LivingSocial travel expert Nick Stafford brings you the best value-packed vacation experiences.
A: I’m Nick Stafford, armed with 15 years of experience leading travel businesses and a well-stamped passport. I’m responsible for LivingSocial’s travel business ‘Escapes’. Travel has been a personal passion of mine, ever since I traveled to Africa and Asia before college, and I’ve been fortunate to have a professional career in the travel industry. I’ve worked in both leisure and corporate travel in the U.S. and Europe, specifically in the airline, yachting, and hotel industries.
Q: What is LivingSocial Escapes?
A: Escapes provides a marketplace where LivingSocial members can discover, share, and buy great travel experiences. We work with the best travel providers, both near and far. So if you’re looking for that perfect weekend away, a luxury hotel in the Caribbean, or the trip of a lifetime to Europe, Africa or Asia, then LivingSocial is the place for you.
Q: What makes Escapes unique?
A: We focus on inspiring our members to travel, working with only a select and limited list of hotels, airlines, and B&B/inns. Inspiration is key. In fact around 70% of our members who buy tell us that they were not actively looking to travel at that time, until they discovered our travel experiences. Our weekly collection is curated. It’s often exclusive and it’s always tailored for our members based on their location. Our primary focus is those perfect nearcation Escapes.
Q: What is Editor’s Pick?
A: Though all of our partners provide great experiences, some stand out. “Editor’s Pick” allows us to share extraordinary places on a monthly basis. The selection will certainly be more art than science. Travel is all about inspiration so don’t expect cookie cutter experiences.
Q: Tell us about your first pick, Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley. What makes the property stand out?
A: Besides the delicious food, local wines, and excellent service, the resort offers an unheard of rustic elegance. Nestled in the trees, this private luxury retreat inspires total relaxation and fuels the soul. The outdoor living spaces that each cabin offers is a real breath of fresh air. It’s an amazing way to connect with nature as you enjoy your private outdoor shower surrounded by the majestic oak trees.
Q: Describe the guest experience travelers can expect.
A: Flawless hospitality. The staff at Calistoga Ranch anticipates each guest’s need before you can even ask. In the heart of wine country, you are close to lots of vineyards, restaurants, art galleries, etc.
Q: Let’s say you had 1 day to spend at the resort. What would you do?
A: Request breakfast and mimosas delivered to my private garden. Go for a hike and soak in the California sun and views of wine country. Go for a dip and enjoy lunch poolside – and of course, a taste of local wine. Soak in a mineral bath, pick a mud treatment, a massage or a facial at the spa. For dinner, order the tasting menu (chef’s choice) with wine pairings at the Lake House restaurant under the stars. That’s how I’d roll – and quite literally. After dinner, I’d roll a little bocce at the Ranch court.
A: Can you give us a clue about next month’s Editor’s Pick?
Calistoga Ranch was the perfect pick for January as the experience focused on rest, rejuvenation, and great food and wine. You can expect February’s selection to fit the season. All I’ll say is that if your happy place involves lifts and a little something called fresh powder, come back for our February reveal!